the side ditch requires a good deal of attention. Several approved procedures may be followed
for cleaning side ditches. The one to be used, of course, depends on the labor and equipment
available; the choice is affected to some extent by the density of traffic moving over the rail line.
Cleaning methods can be broken down into two groups: on-track and off-track procedures.
(1) On-track procedures involve a work train moving along the tracks at a slow rate of
speed, the cleaning being done at the rate of the train's movement. This work obviously blocks
the track for other train movements. It can be used only on multiple-track lines where the other
track or tracks are capable of handling the regular traffic, or on single-track lines where traffic
density is so low that the work-train operation does not seriously interfere with regular traffic or
vice versa. The chief advantage in on-track cleaning is its economy when large quantities of
refuse must be hauled a great distance. Where this is not necessary, it is usually more practical
to use an off-track procedure.
The most common method of cleaning ditches with a work train is simply to
employ a force of men with handtools to clean the ditch and deposit the refuse in cars of the
work train. It usually requires a force of 18 to 20 men working by hand to justify the use of a
On-track ditch maintenance may involve using a mechanical ditcher or spreader
that uses a steel blade to clean or enlarge the side ditch. Since the ditcher blocks adjoining tracks
on multiple-track lines, it can be used only when the track is going to be empty.
(2) Off-track procedures must be used when traffic requirements prohibit using a
work train. The number of off-track methods available to the track supervisor depends largely
on his ingenuity; terrain, drainage, and available resources govern the method chosen. Only a
few of the methods are mentioned here.
Bulldozers, dragline excavators, crawler cranes, and wheelbarrows, if available, are
a few of the implements that may be used to advantage. The contour of the land adjacent to
the ditches is always the determining influence in choosing the proper method. High
embankments or fills with narrow shoulders and narrow cuts obviously exclude the use of large
equipment. Wheelbarrows are often the only implements that can be used in such locations. To
speed cleaning with wheelbarrows, wooden runways are often used.